My Thoughts on the Extended Breastfeeding Video

OK, I have had a good night’s sleep, I am rested and ready rumble! And by rumble, I don’t mean pick an argument, I mean have a cool 50’s face-off like the Soc’s and the Greasers that ends with everyone having a little better understanding of Ralph Macchio and C. Thomas Howell.

As I mentioned yesterday, the extended breastfeeding documentary caused quite a stir on my mom’s board.

Now, first, I want to say VERY CLEARLY, as I have said in my other breastfeeding posts, that I am pro-breastfeeding. I wanted to do it. I also feel like it’s is a family’s choice as to when to stop breastfeeding… but LET’S BE REAL. That means 2, maybe 3 or MAYBE MAYBE MAYBE 4 years old depending on the circumstances. Certainly I put forth those ages as MY OPINION, but guess what! This is my blog! But I have a feeling most of the country agrees with me on that one.

A friend on my mom’s board quoted the work of Dr. Katherine A. Dettwyler, who believes the natural age to wean children is age 2 to 7. SEVEN. My friend and I got into a bit of a tussle when I had issues with this statistic. For several reasons.

First, no disrespect to Dr. Dettwyler, and clearly I need to do more reading on her work if I am going to mouth off, and this may not even apply technically, but since when has that stopped me, but why does she say ages 2-7 is natural? What is her research based on? Is it from current research? Is it based on 100 years ago? Anyone familiar with her work, I honestly would like to know. And why is the work of one person being held up as the Golden Rule? Why hasn’t the American Academy of Pediatrics embraced this standard?

And this statistic supports a higher age of extended breastfeeding though modern society does not. So, to Noble Savage’s point that the video was made to be inflamatory – you are right. It got my attention. I wouldn’t give a rats ass if that kid in the video was 3 years old.

As I mentioned, I can see age 2, and even age 3 and even maybe 4 but beyond that there is a time where a parent should be teaching a child what the boundaries of their bodies are. Way back in the past where there was not a grocery store on every corner there was an evolutionary need to breastfeed later, but honestly, it is one of my pet peeves when people live in a modern world and do not adhere to modern norms, and claim “it’s natural.” Sure, it was natural when there were cavemen running around, but so was pooping on the ground. (Um, that comment really pissed my friend off, so it is sure to piss you all off, so – have fun with that.)

And as a few of you commented on in the last post, the crux of the issue seems to be nutritional. Sure, we all know breast milk is the super food to end all super foods. But REALLY? To my way of thinking, a mother of a child that age might spend a little more time working on getting better food in their child’s diet and teaching them how to cook (because, at age 8, they can be not only helping cook, but helping plan the meals and understanding what and why is nutritious about it) than allowing a girl that age to suckle her breast. And sure, the child is asking for it, but a child would ask for the moon if they could.

Clearly, at that age, it is a comfort thing, not a nutritional thing and there are a gazillion and one other ways to be close to your child, both physically and emotionally.

To me, it is all about BOUNDARIES.

Personally, I think one main goal of parenting is a process to raise kids who are self sufficient, and that the relationship should evolve over the childhood years where the kids are breaking away from the parent and any parent who is still breastfeeding at age 8, a girl two clicks away from her period, mind you, has attachment issues of their own, as well as not being strong enough to stand up and give their child appropriate boundaries.

As a child of a father who was without boundaries, this is a very touchy subject for me, I will admit. So maybe I feel stronger about it than I should. And certainly, I do not think that woman is molesting her child. My point is, I believe what they are doing is crossing a boundary, that, with girls that age, should not be crossed.

This article has 61 comments

  1. Velma

    I could NOT agree more. Period.

  2. Meghann

    You know what? I actually agree with you on this. Shocking, I know.

    I agree that breastmilk is what you called “the superfood to end all superfoods”. I have even heard rumors that there are athletes out there that drink it. But, they don’t get it straight from the tap.

    I am usually a very big “to each their own” person, but I think at that age, if you still want your child to get breastmilk, you should be pumping.

  3. zipper

    I am with Creative Type Dad. What about the whiskers??

    And glad you liked Speed Racer.

  4. Tanaya

    I belong to a mom board similar to yours and this was a hot issue there as well. An issue that made many uncomfortable and caused the extended breast feeding mom to leave. I completely agree with you about this topic and my own belief is that beyond a certain age, the breastfeeding is entirely about comfort, not nutrition.

  5. sarahk

    I am an avid breastfeeder. I have breastfeed all of my 3 children, all of whom stopped of their own accord, the youngest when she was nearly 3. It was very hard for me to stop as I definitely got something out of it for myself. That being said, I am also a child and family therapist who knows that children need to seperate and individuate themselves from their parents in stages, which can begin as early as 2, and come in waves. There is (in most healthy cases) a lifelong emotional dependence on the mother. However, if a child is not allowed to become his or her own seperate individual, esp apart from the mother, then the child may develop problems with attachment, adjustment, and an integrated sense of self. So basically, who is being served by this situation? Not the child. The mother. There are plenty of other ways to comfort growing childern, how about cuddling up to read a book together?

  6. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Thanks for the feedback thus far, peeps.

    And Sarah, I knew you would have good insight on this issue.

  7. Fabricated Goddess

    I believe (although I’m not entirely sure if this is in connection with the Dr’s work that you reference) that the natural weaning between 2 and 7 is based on world wide breast feeding stats. My boys both self weaned around 2 and by most North American standards even that was a long time. I took some flack for it, to be sure. However, do feel like 7 or 8 (!) is really pushing it. What’s the benefit at that age? Even for me, by two years (and we were down to one feed – usually first thing in the morning or nap time) I was done even if they weren’t.

  8. Mr Lady

    Oh, AIMEE. I was ready for you to go nuts with this, and you didn’t. Your response was totally valid ans rational.

    I could not care less how long a kid ingests breastmilk. I would be concerned if it was their sole dietary content, but hey, I’ll give it to them that it’s nutritional.

    What I do have concern with is the same as you. Boundaries. Not with breastfeeding per se, but what is it telling these young girls when their mothers refuse to own their own bodies at some point? Are we trying to send a message to girls that becoming a mother means you give up your body forever? No. Our job as mothers is to teach our children that their bodies are their OWN, not tools for men OR milking machines. Once we can replace superfood milk with superfood pumpkin (or something) then we move on to the NEXT phase of parenting when we work on higher concepts than feeding..,like respecting our own bodies and demanding some level of privacy there-in.

    Yes, I also am jaded by some experience with people completely forgoing MY boundaries, and perhaps that’s my knee-jerk reaction’s reason, but for me it’s not about the Social Norms so much as it is the message being sent that a woman has to be available to her children whenever for whatever.

    (Sorry, I rambled. Sort of incoherently. I’ll try to re-work that later.)

  9. Anonymous

    I’m sorry, that video was outrageous.

  10. Poppy Buxom

    One of the moms in my group blog posted that video. I was all ready to post a snarky remark after watching it–but guess what? I couldn’t watch it. I got too squicked. And I was an extended breast feeder myself–my daughter weaned at two.

    But honestly, what is WRONG with that woman? Putting it on video? Letting the whole world know? Can you imagine what other children think of that eight year old girl?

    I’m sorry, but that is just effed up.

  11. Noble Savage

    I’m not sure I can have this conversation without getting too emotionally invested but I will try to compose myself and come back with my thoughts.

  12. Anonymous

    whoah. just whoah.

  13. Manager Mom

    I haven’t seen the video. I breastfed both of my kids- The Girl for a year, and The Boy for 9 months. They both naturally lost interest around that time.

    I have to say,in my opinion, if they’re old enough to ask for it using anatomically correct terminology, it’s probably time to shut down the booby train.

  14. OMSH

    I had a serious response, and then I read Meghann’s comment,
    I agree that breastmilk is what you called “the superfood to end all superfoods”. I have even heard rumors that there are athletes out there that drink it. But, they don’t get it straight from the tap.”

    And now I’m off to ask Mr. OMSH if he’d like a bit of milk from the tap.

    Because that sounds like a great way to get kicks on this Saturday morning.

  15. VDog

    I have to admit that the vid made me feel a bit queasy. I’m an “extended” breastfeeder (I guess? at 16 mos?), but hope to wean before 2, just because even though I do enjoy the closeness, etc., I’m getting tired of it.

    I believe in self-weaning, but at a certain point it becomes ridiculous and the parents need to set the body boundaries and separation of self.

  16. Missy Wiggins

    You make a very valid point.
    I agree with your stance.
    I had such a terrible time with breast feeding unfortunately I can’t imagine anyone willingly doing it longer than necessary.

  17. Michelle

    Okay, I’ve got to put in my 2 cents worth. I agree with you Aimee. However, my cut off would be a little earlier. My thoughts are…when you take a baby off of formula that’s maybe when you should take a baby off of breast milk. The whole breast feeding isn’t really my gig. Keep in mind I just had a baby 4 weeks ago. I prefer to pump and give it to him in a bottle. I’m pro breast feeding/pumping. I just think that when the child can have a conversation with you…that’s when you have done it too long. Just my thoughts.


  18. Loralee Choate

    I’m afraid I can’t be as gentle in my options about this. I am a huge breastfeeding advocate, but not when it comes to extended feeding. Breastfeeding past about two seems weird. I could maybe see 3 depending on a lot of circumstances, but that is really pushing it to me.

    Past that? I see ZERO reason for children to be suckling a breast. I about vomited at the 7 thing. I can’t help it.

    If parents really want their child to have breast milk (And while I still go “EEEWE” at that, I can totally wrap my head around a parent wanting the nutritional best for their kid), THEN BUY A FREAKING PUMP.

    Also, suckling at an advanced age is just contrary to development IMO. I mean, take away the very strange boundary issues of the actual breast-wouldn’t you think it was weird if a kid was toting a bottle around to Kindergarten or the first or second grade?

  19. Amanda

    I’ve yet to see the video, but knowing the flack I took for breastfeeding my first until she was 19 months, I don’t know how a person could go 8 years. Seems incredibly cruel to create a dependence on a kind of comfort that simply cannot always be available. We tach them to stop sucking their thumbs, to stop carrying binkies…it is our job to give our children the tools they need to be independent, it is the greatest act of love to take that responsibility seriously.

    Great post.

  20. Nat

    I’m still really baffled by this one. I agree that it’s for mom. Can you imagine telling the kids at school about this? Very odd. I think breast is best if you can tough it out. (It was hell for me, and I actually switched to formula.)

    On “poop on the ground” — one of our neighbours has refused to put her kids in diapers. (Not even cloth.) They just sort of go wherever and she cleans up after them. I keep meaning to blog about it but it seems so odd to me. (Not to mention messy.) Apparently it’s a trend in some circles?

  21. asecrettobluebamboo

    Exactly. I couldn’t have said it better. Breast feeding at age 8? I don’t think that is something that you are supposed to remmber doing as an adult. It makes me shudder.

    (Oh, I’m delurking, by the way!)

  22. Rebecca F.

    Okay, I absolutely find this odd too, but I am trying to figure out what the big deal is to everyone?

    I know people who do things to their kids that I think is completely screwed up…that eventually will land their kids in years worth of psychotherapy…. People don’t show their horror to them.

    This woman thinks she is comforting her children by breastfeeding them. So what?? There are abusers, neglecters and over-involvers all over the world who are doing much more harm to their children than this woman….

    I am trying to figure out how this fits in to my attempts at not being judgemental to others moms. I think if a woman genuinely has decided that this is best for her children than I have to try to understand and accept her decisions as a woman and a mom. I don’t have to like it, or think it is okay but it is still her decision.

    (BTW, in case any of you wonder, I breastfed my girls until 18 months or so.)

    Rebecca F.

  23. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Rebecca, I see your point, but I do see this as borderline abuse and that is why I am upset about it. She is not teaching her child about appropriate touches, not setting up boundaries between her body and her child’s. The issue is not about breastfeeding anymore.

  24. Tootsie Farklepants

    After reading the comments I don’t think I can watch that video. And I think that breastfeeding after the age of 2 is really pushing it.

  25. mel from freak parade

    Wow. Watching that video just made me want to send them a case of juice boxes.

    I would love to come up with some thoughtful dialogue to add to the conversation, but I’m too skeeved out

    Breastfeeding is awesome. Extended Breastfeeding is awesome if it is right for you and your child. Having an eight your old who names and draws your boobs based on which one she knows has the better milk….not awesome. Just sad and disturbing.

  26. Loralee Choate


    “one of our neighbours has refused to put her kids in diapers. (Not even cloth.)”

    OMG. GAG. HURL!!

  27. Noble Savage

    Seriously, Aimee? You really think this is borderline abuse? That just astounds me. You might not agree with it, you might not personally do it but to equate breastfeeding with abuse just because it’s done after an age that you feel is after the magic ‘cut off date’? That seems very judgmental to me.

    Why is it okay for babies and very young toddlers to breastfeed but suddenly NOT okay at an arbitrary date pre-determined by other people? A child being able to ‘ask for it’ does not mean the need ceases to exist. Did you stop giving Declan hugs when he could ask for one? Of course not! Because you both still enjoy the closeness and get enormous benefits from hugging. Just because someone can identify a need doesn’t mean it should be taken away. That seems almost cruel to me.

    I think it’s all to do with how modern society still views breasts as primarily sexual and that we, as mothers, just have to ‘put up with’ and endure breastfeeding for a year or two and then “get them back.” For those who didn’t breastfeed, struggled with it or don’t enjoy it, that’s fine. But some women actually ENJOY breastfeeding and don’t consider it a chore or a violation of their bodies. So to say that extended breastfeeding causes boundary issues just isn’t true for many women.

    I ask again — why is it so ‘gross’ to have human milk but we are quite happy to give our children the milk from OTHER MAMMALS? We know that milk is essential for children’s development and healthy bones, all that. Breastmilk provides that *and* incredible immunological properties, not to mention the intense bonding that comes out of the act of breastfeeding. I just don’t see how something tailor-made for human children and that is designed to bring mother and child closer together can ever be bad.

    You don’t have to like it or do it, but please at least respect it or refrain from slamming it. Breastfeeding rates are pitifully low and mothers who want to nurse already face so many obstacles, including being made to feel awkward and ashamed about doing it in public, for too short a time, too long, etc.. We should be supporting one another in our choices if they make us happy and our kids are happy, not talking about each other as ‘disgusting’. I know that if someone made a documentary about how horrible using formula by choice is there would be many cries of “Personal choice! It’s my body, my decision!” So why not with nursing, however long that relationship may last?

  28. robin

    Good Lord. I saw that same video about a month and a half ago, and, honestly, I felt disgusted. Really. To the point where I almost felt creeped out right afterwards when I was breastfeeding my own child, *who was a month and a half at the time*!

    I am a strong believer in breastfeeding. But, really, COME ON! Those girls on that video had serious boundary issues. UG!

    (okay, there-maybe I offended people enough for them to forget about being offended by you!)

  29. robin

    oh, I forgot. The best (or worst, depending on how you look at it) part of that video was the older girl…
    “Better than anything in the world. Better than a mango even.”

  30. bellevelma

    I came here from Plain Jane Mom, GRIT. I haven’t watched the video, didn’t even know there was one until now. Breastfeeding an 8 year old? That’s second grade folks. Second grade! Our school cafeteria sells milk in cartons, moms aren’t allowed to deliver the goods in person.

  31. Rebecca F.

    Hi Aimee

    I don’t know. I’m kind of ambivalent still. In some societies, very extended breastfeeding may be the norm. They may wonder why we don’t do it….

    European societies consider nudity acceptable. I think that is okay although my neighbors here in the south may think differently. LOL. Although I understand your point, I don’t have any problem with the “boundaries” part of it. It is their mom. I also have two little girls, so I may think differently if I had boys, but I think it is our society that has made us so conscious of our bodies. The point might be whether that mom should be raising her daughters to fit into our society or if it is okay that they will be so differently raised……Hard thing.

    I did find it very odd that the kids are drawing pictures of boobs and discussing their favorites and talking about which boob has the most milk, etc. That certainly was over and above for me. If they hadn’t shown that part, I might have been even more okay with it. Maybe it was carefully guided by producers and edited to seem weirder than it is?

    Ultimately though I don’t mind that she still breast feeds. It is a hard thing for me because I’m not really sure how I feel about it and tend to lean towards if it makes their family happy, go for it.

    Thanks for a good discussion. I hope you know that even if we disagree on our views, I still appreciate being able to discuss them.

    Rebecca F.

  32. emma

    People have been having a problem with what you are saying? Really? Well, as you say, everyone is entitled to their opinion but personally, I feel you summed up my opinion quite nicely.

  33. Kathy

    Well said! Though I myself weaned at less than a year and go a little cross eyed at the thought of breast feeding till two…I totally support women who can keep it up.

  34. Marketing Mama

    You can call me a lactivist – I am currently bf my 2nd baby (4 months) and try to ‘normalize’ it as much as possible for those around me — as in I don’t run off to the nearest bathroom to feed my baby, but I also don’t show them my nipples every time I feed her. ANYWAYS – I hate the fact that there are extremes to breastfeeding.

    There are people who say “EEWWWWW, anything past 6 WEEKS is disgusting”. I think eight is a bit old, personally, but I don’t think it’s abuse in any way. Attachment issues? Sure.

    That said, just this weekend I weaned my 2.75 year old son from his pacifier. There are people who think I am FREAKIN CRAZY for letting him use it this long. Maybe I should show them this video.

    You want to strike up some controversy – let’s talk about the right age to wean a kid from the nuk. I’ve heard the same thing – If they are old enough to ask for it, they are too old to use it. GRRR.

    When my son was still under the age of one, he could ask to nurse. Using sign language. Should he be penalized because I taught him sign language and therefore could ask to EAT when he was hungry?

    Aw shit, this is turning into the worst ramble of all time. Later!

  35. Catherine

    It seems obvious that mom has boundary issues. She wants to share her body with her prepubescent girls. She can’t teach her daughters about boundaries and respect for their own bodies when she’s inviting them to take advantage of her own.

    And yes, I did BF – both kids.

  36. Noble Savage

    if your kid can spell lactate, they shouldn’t be a recipient of it.

    Can you please explain WHY you feel that way? Is it because the thought of breasts being used for something other than selling products and titillating men makes you uncomfortable?

    I’ve yet to hear a good reason for abruptly ending a nursing relationship that wasn’t to do with other people’s hangups. Care to share yours?

  37. painted maypole

    hmmm… interesting. I’m not sure I’m totally with you on the whole “conform to modern social norms” things, because I think a lot of our social norms are TERRIBLE, but I’m not sure I agree with breastfeeding until 8 either. I just don’t know enough about it. But I know it wasn’t right for me! 😉

  38. villanovababy

    I think it’s interesting that people are drinking breast milk from cows at any age, but that breast milk from humans has an age limit.

    I think the 8 year old nursing is obviously not just about the milk, but if the flavor is pleasant to a child of 8, then I think they should be allowed to have it.

    I can not imagine letting a kid that size jump on my teet any old time, but I think if they didn’t WANT to quit, I’d offer them pumped milk.

    Cheerios and breast milk anyone? 😉

  39. Mitch McDad

    Greebs….I’m so pissed at you!!! As midnight hits and I’m just about to go to bed, I watch this video of some kid old enough to do the NY Times Crossword puzzle nuzzling up to mommy’s milk-filled-though-they-shouldn’t-be-anymore breasts.

    Now I have to go to sleep with that image branded in my brain. THANKS!

    I think a good rule of thumb should be this: if your kid can spell lactate, they shouldn’t be a recipient of it.

  40. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    No one said anything about abruptly stopping.

    My friend SarahK from above happened to be over for dinner last night and we talked about this post some more. She is a child and family therapist, and especially has worked in the child protection area. And not that I would take her “one person’s word” on apparently this one “one person’s word,” she is the type of expert I would want to hear way in on the issue. She mentioned there are things in child protection that, even though loving and bonding events, can be “reportable” at a certain age. For example, a woman taking a shower with her son at age 9 or 10 and letting him wash her. On the surface, it is a loving, natural thing to do, but it is causing confusing boundaries regarding that child and their body. She made a comment that sometimes there are things that meant with total love, but still can be abuse.

    Someone else commented about getting grief about a binky… while I see where you are coming from… IMO, that is completely different because a binky in not encouraging preteen touching between a child and an adult. I am sure the analogy was meant to focus on the way society sees binkys at later stages and inappropriate vs. how (our) society sees extended breastfeeding as wrong… but also as my friend and I were talking about last night… something along the line of a binky falls into the things that vary by parenting style. What movies you let your child watch. Whether they go to bed at 7 or 8 or 9. To me, the behavior of a person who lets their children breastfeed at 5, 6, 7, and 8 years old is vastly different than that.

    And back to Noble Savage point. I do see it as borderline abuse. It’s JMO, but I do. I come from a place where I had a father who had no boundaries. There is a time when parents should teach there children about the places in their bodies that are approriate to be touched by others, including their parents. I don’t know exactly when that time is, but I know that those conversations started with my son as early as 3 years old. Around then is when it became not OK to purposely touch my breasts or my nether regions or Bryan’s. Etc.

    And I ask again where do other groups weigh in on this? What do psychiatrists say about this? Because honestly, that’s who I want to hear from. I wasn’t behind facetious when I asked. Because I suspect the societal norms aren’t just arbitrary. There is a time when a child needs to start breaking away from the mother. And in fact, it is my understanding that breast milk actually gets less and less nutritious over the years anyway, so what are they really getting at are 8?? Just a lingering codependence.

    Which leads me to the comment about, why not worry about the real abusers? Well, who knows what damage is being done to that girl and when all know cycles perpetuate themselves.

    I will be honest. I have spent many sessions in therapy, talking through my fears of becoming my father. I have NEVER felt the way he did towards my son, have NEVER acted the way he did towards my son, but my point it, break the cycle.

    And NS, I hear that you are angry and passionate about this… and I really want to stress again – for me, at this age, the issue is not about breastfeeding anymore. It’s transcended that.

  41. daisybones

    Arriving late to the conversation:)

    Regarding how that age range was devised, I have read in various places that a biologically natural weaning age is determined based on:

    1)Comparing the gestation length of humans to other mammals. In all mammals the length of nursing follows a ratio to length of gestation. I’m not positive but I think 3 years is the minimum weaning age looking at it like this.

    2) Dental development. Milk teeth are called milk teeth because the time when they fall out coincides with a change in dental and palate shape that makes it difficult for the child to latch on properly to the breast. So after 6ish? it isn’t “natural” or (I’m guessing) comfortable.

    3) Looking at rates of breastfeeding in a variety of cultures. These studies are usually quoted to show a worldwide average of 4. These are usually poorly conducted studies and are often criticized.

    4) One anthropologist in National Geo. suggested that the three year old preserved body found a few years ago was a little girl who was still nursing. The context of the article suggested that was the norm for the species at the time.

    I wish I could give you a bibliography here:) I’ve just read so much I come across stuff.

    And because I am a Mommy Blogger, I can’t resist posting my opinion as well. I decided when I was pregnant to base my decisions regarding nursing on biology, not culture. My reason for that isn’t that cultural attitudes are always irrelevant, but that the attitudes in the US about the female body are so wrapped up in sexism and sexual fetishism that I don’t feel a sound decision can be made while allowing that to be a factor. (Y’know. For me.) I also hoped to use child-led weaning.

    My Birdy will be two in 10 days and I have started very slowly weaning her. I’m exhausted, frankly. She likes to nurse at night, and I do not:)

    I also have to say I do not understand why we deride the comforting function of the breast. I see this constantly in “extended?” “full-term?” nursing discussions: this worry that it’s all about comfort. Why is that a bad thing? It baffles.

    🙂 Thanks for hosting a spirited, thoughtful, respectful discussion on such a compelling topic.

  42. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Daisy, thanks for those answers, they make sense. But, I would again like to see what psychologists in the mix, weighing in on the effects (BOTH pro and con of course).

    And I want to be clear about this, my concern is NOT in the 2, 3 and even 4 age range. In fact, I don’t even consider age 2 “extended.”

    And again, ALL JUST MY OPINION. LOL.

    Thanks to everyone for weighing in with yours. I appreciate it.

  43. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    One last thought and I will shut up for a while… there seems to be this feeling that man overtook breasts and made them their sexual plaything, but I honestly don’t agree with that. At a certain point in development, breasts – to put it bluntly – get sexually aroused, so to me, they are dual purpose. So, they’re not just a milking machine and not just a sexual plaything. They’re both. 😉

  44. Anonymous

    what an interesting discussion.

  45. AB

    I think it is a bit extreme, and I certainly wouldn’t do it. But I don’t think it is that big a deal. It looks like maybe those kids are in a rural area too? Probably home schooled? That said, boundaries are a bit different. In that case, they are not comparing experiences with the other kids at school or day care. To each his own. At 7 and even 8, kids still need comfort an cuddles and that is probably most of what they are getting out of it. Just like with breast feeding a toddler, it is not sexual if they don’t yet have any real context of sexuality. And I seriously doubt a mother would see it as anything more than providing the comfort is has since they were infants. I can’t imagine my feelings for my child changing at any particular age.

    I think it is really case by case, but I also agree that there probably are not many who would find it appropriate or desireable.

  46. Anonymous

    Actually, the American Academy of Pediatrics statement on breastfeeding recommends at least one year and then as long as mutually desired. So they do have something to say on the topic.

  47. Tisha

    I am the mother of an 8 year old girl. I am starting to discuss with her what will happen when her breasts grow since it could start any time now. She has little crushes on boys. She is learning to ride her bike without training wheels. She does multiplication and division. She has read every Harry Potter book at least 3 times. She is starting to ask me questions about when she can date. She wears earrings. She can stay at home by herself for 5 minutes if I have to run to the store. I give her hugs when she is sad – she is starting to not tell me every time some one in the world hurts her feelings. She is growing up.

    She is 8. I cannot even fathom breast feeding her at this age.

  48. Tree

    I have enjoyed the discussion, appreciate all views, yet still have not really formed an opinion about it. I have not seen the video and will not view it for the reason that it has sparked so much controversy.

  49. Shamelessly Sassy

    Seven? SEVEN? jayzus. I’d like to pretend that I am above saying this, but i’m not. So I’ll just go ahead and admit that to me, that is pretty damn creepy. I cannot even fathom this.

  50. robin

    Two things.
    One, I completely agree with Noble Savage in her question “why is it so ‘gross’ to have human milk but we are quite happy to give our children the milk from OTHER MAMMALS?” Why, indeed? We see children guzzling cow milk (meant for baby cows, not human children) everyday and never flinch. I can’t imagine ANYONE, however, not doing a double take if they saw a child drinking the cow milk straight from the source.

    Two; I have a couple of questions for those of you who don’t think there is a problem with an 8 year old breastfeeding.
    1) WHY do you think this is appropriate? Seriously, I would like to know. What benefits is the child getting? Do they outweigh the potential detriment?

    2) What if she still wanted to breastfeed at age 10? 12? 14? If we are tossing out any type of cutoff age, than any age is acceptable, right? So a 16 year old breastfeeding would be just as “natural” as an 8 year old as a 2 year old as an infant?

    3) What if it were a boy? would that change things?

    I do not ask these questions to be sarcastic. They are not rhetorical questions. I am genuinely interested in your opinions.

  51. giselle

    I kind of think if the kid can clearly remember being breastfed, then maybe they were breastfed too long.

    That video made me feel weird and that woman is not doing her child any favors.

  52. MB

    While it’s sad that we do, indeed, have to worry about over-sexualizing our children these days, it’s just a damn fact that we do. Yes, there are probably those instances when it might be safe and okay to do whatever you feel is right, but GENERALLY SPEAKING, boundaries are a good thing and will protect our children from being confused about their own sexuality and “norms.” I’m afraid that anyone who is doing this at age 8 is being set up for some very confused life moments. MHO, of course.

    I can’t dispute the validity of the argument about breast milk. Absolutely – pump it and drink it! Just save the child the confusion that comes with what I consider to be excessive bonding…

  53. Lotta

    The “two clicks away” really made me realize how ridiculous this is to breastfeed at this age. And if you must give your child the superfood at this age – what about pumping and putting it in a sports bottle or something?

  54. mamagnome

    Hi Aimee,

    What an interesting discussion. I am pro-breastfeeding, when possible. I read your post and all of the comments before watching the video and I was really surprised by how innocuous the video seemed in comparison to what I’d been expecting based on the discussion.

    I wanted to press you on the issue of “modern norms”. Do you mean, perhaps, urban norms? The family in the video seems to live a consciously sheltered lifestyle and to have gone to some lengths to protect their children from tweenification. Those girls do not seem to be occupying the same cultural space as the devotees of Hannah Montana. I guess what I am trying to say is that even in our modern times, there are many different norms and one eight year-old may be in a very different place developmentally than another. I guess I just do not see how one can set an age past when breastfeeding must stop if the children and mother are both happy to continue. I agree with the mother in the video, those girls will not go to college still on the boob. Yes, breasts have a sexual as well as nutrient-giving purpose, simultaneously and may play only one for different people.

    I wonder, however, what such extended breastfeeding does to the mother. Does it contribute to osteoporosis? What toll is producing milk for that many years taking on her body?

  55. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Mamagnome… that’s a good perspective, and I could see how a rural mom might feel comfortable going to the upper limits of what “society” is accepting of… but I still come back to those girls drawing photos of breast and having names for them. NOT NORMAL. 😉

    And thanks to all of you for your interesting contributions, whether we agree or don’t. I always like hearing different perspectives and thoughts.

  56. Jenny, the Bloggess

    I’m with you, chica.

  57. Headless Mom

    After 58 comments I’m not sure mine really means anything, but here I go.

    First of all I did nurse my kids (boys) until the age of 14 months and 12 months, respectively. I believe in it, if it is possible for you, and all of that.

    And for full disclosure, I have not watched the video, but considering all of the comments I don’t think that I need to.

    I think that one can argue about world-wide norms, averages and the like, fine. BUT WE LIVE IN AMERICA. Whether it is right or wrong (in your opinion) we live in a VERY sexualized society and allowing a child (male or female) to nurse past the toddler/preschool age is not right. It sends the wrong message to a child about the private-ness of their bodies, and the mother’s. (I personally don’t think it is ok past the 12-18 month stage, but see the validity of it for some.) And really? If your kid is old enough to make his or her own pbj, pack it and take it to grade school, then you should really be done with the nursing.

    Aimee- Thanks for a great discussion! I’ve really enjoyed reading everyone’s opinions.

  58. Alpha DogMa

    Greeble, awesome post. AWESOME!

    I have friend IRL who doesn’t get that “one main goal of parenting is a process to raise kids who are self sufficient, and that the relationship should evolve over the childhood years.” I LOVE THAT LINE. I’m going to quote you.

    But I digress…

    There is no way I could watch that video with having to bleach my eyeballs and my brain afterward.

  59. Petunia

    I have never posted a comment on a blog before. I do not blog, but like to read them occasionally. This subject really caught my attention as the mother of an 8 year old girl. (and 11 year old boy and 5 year old girl)
    I will say I breastfed them all for one year. I am not against extended bf, I was just “done” at 12 months. When I say extended, I think – 2 to 3 ish….

    I don’t think I could stomach that video. I find it repulsive and borderline abusive. I can’t fathom such an idea with my 8 (or even 5) year old daughters. If 8 is ok, what is the stopping point? When daughter gets her own breasts?

    8 year olds are really coming into their own identity, thinking skills,responsibility, wanting to start more “grown up” things… (into fads like high shcool musical), wanting to have friends over to spend the night, etc…

    That mother has issues.

  60. Corinne

    I’m still breast feeding my 22 month old. Do I feel like I’m an extended breast feeder? No, because I feel she is still a baby. But I have to say, I found that video nauseating. I think she is causing more harm then good by continuing to breast feed at that age. Think of the social stigma! Aren’t the girls teased at school? And personally, I think they sounded a little brainwashed.

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